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September 23, 2009 at 9:42 AM

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Teaching like it matters

Posted by Lynne Varner

My column exploring the traits of good teaching included some well-known tricks of the trade: Don't lecture students, do pull them in using Socratic-style queries; learn about your students' lives, it will come in handy when you're trying to motivate and help them.

Experience gathered from more than a decade of writing about education informs me that important distinctions must be made between the art of teaching and the politics of it. Let the teachers union focus, or become obsessed - depending on your viewpoint - with issues far beyond the classroom. Most teachers are rightly focused on their craft.

More thoughts, ideas and books that I couldn't fit into my column.

Dorothy Rich, a longtime teacher and trainer created megaskills that must be taught and reinforced in school and at home and which are key drivers for academic success. They are: Confidence, Motivation, Effort, Responsibility, Initiative, Perseverance, Caring, Teamwork, Common Sense, Problem Solving, Focus and Respect.

One of the biggest challenges teachers face is working with parents, who can be uncooperative, demanding or uninvolved. Insight and advice comes from Natalie Schwartz, author of The Teacher Chronicles: Confronting the Demands of Students, Parents, Administrators and Society.

Other inspirational tales from the teacher's desk include, Rafe Esquith, author of Teach Like Your Hair’s On Fire and the newly released “Lighting Their Fires: Raising Extraordinary Children in a Mixed-Up, Muddled-Up, Shook-Up World .” Don't have time to read two weighty tomes? This interview reads like well-written Cliff Notes.

I’m in the middle of What Great Teachers Do Differently: 14 Things That Matter Most.

Send me titles, tips and thoughts and it maybe that the art of good teaching will spread like wildfire.

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